|Sign up for KyForward news updates|
The UK baseball team looks poised for another strong season in 2013 with six 2012 MLB draft picks turning down professional contracts to be Wildcats.
On Friday, the 5 p.m. deadline for MLB teams to sign draft picks passed without any of the five UK high school signees or rising senior left-handed pitcher Jerad Grundy signing pro deals. Grundy was the only one of the six drafted UK underclassmen to return to school for his senior season.
“I’ve decided to put off my pro career for a year,” he said on his Twitter account. “Excited about proud to return to UK for my senior year.”
Grundy, the 27th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins, was 6-3 with a 3.78 ERA in 16 starts for UK as a junior. He struck out 63 batters and walked 36 in 85 and two-third innings pitched. Grundy held opponents to a .245 batting average. The 2012 draft marked the third selection for Grundy, who was also picked by the Rangers in the 46th round in 2009 and the Marlins in the 42nd round in 2011.
Grundy has made four starts this summer for the Orleans Firebirds of the prestigious Cape Cod League, going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA and 17 strikeouts to go with five walks in 20 innings pitched.
He will be joined on the 2013 Wildcat squad by five drafted freshmen, including two in-state signees.
Bourbon County High School left-handed pitcher Chase Mullins, the 24th-round pick of the Texas Rangers, was named First-Team All-State by the KHSBCA following his senior season. Baseball America ranked the 6-foot-9 pitcher as the No. 305 prospect in the draft, noting he is “still learning to pitch and to control his big frame” but “has clean arm action for such a big pitcher.” Perfect Game ranked him the No. 74 player nationally in the high school class of 2012.
Franklin County High School catcher Zach Arnold, the 27th-round pick of the New York Mets, was one of two UK catcher signees to be selected in the draft. A Second-Team All-State selection by the KHSBCA in 2012, Arnold was rated as a top-500 high school prospect by Perfect Game. Baseball America ranked as the No. 19 prospect in Kentucky prior to the draft and the No. 5 high school player.
Three out-of-state UK signees — catcher Casey Schroeder (Cardinals, 22nd round), right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody (Phillies, 33rd round) and right-handed pitcher Matt Pope (Pirates, 38th round) — also turned down professional contracts to attend college.
Henry Clay High School right-handed pitcher Walker Buehler, the 14th-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates, opted to attend Vanderbilt instead of signing a contract. He was ranked as the No. 50 prospect on Baseball America’s top 500 prospects list prior to the draft but slid to the 14th round in part because of his strong college commitment. Buehler struck out 98 batters in 66 innings as a senior at Henry Clay. He was named First-Team All-State by the Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association.
Outfielder Jonathan Youngblood, a Lafayette High School alum, followed a 30th-round selection by the Atlanta Braves out of high school in 2011 with a 15th-round selection by the PIrates this season. As a freshman at Meridian Community College in Mississippi, Youngblood batted .277 with 41 runs scored and 29 stolen bases in 32 attempts. He is currently playing for the Dodge City A’s in the Jayhawk Summer League, batting .275.
EKU rising senior right-handed pitcher Anthony Bazzani, the 31st-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles, will be return to Richmond. Baseball America ranked Bazzani as the No. 467 prospect in the draft. As a junior at EKU, he was 1-1 with a 3.40 ERA and eight saves in 27 games. He struck out 29 batters and walked 32 in 42 and one-third innings. In 13 games for the Alexandria Beetles of the Northwoods League this summer, Bazzani has tallied seven saves in 15 innings while striking out 25 batters and walking seven.